– MIA President Tracy Mitchell accepts a donation of three bikes from Chef Marilyn for the Angel Tree Christmas Project. (MIA photo)

Children and youth throughout South Los Angeles will enjoy the holidays a lot more, thanks to the generosity of Mothers In Action, who provided toys and gift cards to more than 450 young people through its Angel Tree Christmas Project.

The well-known nonprofit organization, which has assisted underserved children, college students and senior citizens for more than 25 years, utilized all of their resources and partnerships to sponsor one of their most successful campaigns ever.  As a result, said MIA President Tracy Mitchell, the group was able to support scores of primary, secondary and high school pupils.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading like wildfire, the need this year was greater than ever.  So we increased our reach and capacity to serve by providing the entire Danny J. Bakewell Sr. Primary School with food boxes and toys for all of the kids,” said Mitchell.

“On the last day before the Christmas vacation break, we gave each child a sack pack that contained a doctor’s kit, Mr. Potato Puzzles and Disney Money/Time books.  The partnership really works out because we work closely with the principal, Ms. Karen Ward, who is great with the children. She knows the name of each student and just makes them all feel special,” she explained.

Mitchell added that MIA’s long history with Bakewell Primary School includes collaborating on projects such as the Read Across America drive and the car seat safety check program. Also, the organization teams up with LAPD and California Highway Patrol to sponsor regular “Stranger Danger” and bicycle safety days at the school.

MIA made sure Santa visited students at the Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. Primary School. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis)

In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, MIA went above and beyond to give to people less fortunate. The group distributed toys and food packets to three day care facilities, additional elementary schools and several families in need.  In addition, 100 homeless individuals received hygiene kits, PPE supplies and nonperishable food items.

“Our village of donors helped us to double our capacity to serve this year.  We give special thanks to the L.A. Sentinel, Taste of Soul, Spark of Love, L.A. Regional Foodbank, the Bakewell family, Los Angeles Urban League, our other Angel Tree Christmas Project donors and the Mothers In Action staff,” Mitchell said.

MIA President Tracy Mitchell (2nd from left) with Bakewell Primary School principal, Karen Ward (right), teachers and staff who helped Santa pack gifts for the students. E. Mesiyah McGinnis / L.A. Sentinel

“We also appreciate Chef Marilyn, who donated three bikes. She has done this for more than 10 consecutive years because she says she remembers, as a child, how it felt to get a bike on Christmas Day. We want to acknowledge Revè Gipson as well for sponsoring the appearance of Black Santa Claus,” added the MIA president.

And to spread even more holiday joy, MIA coordinated with students from Fairfax High School, Marcus Garvey School and Bakewell Primary School to create personalized Christmas cards that the organization will distribute to seniors and other children.

A Bakewell Primary School student negotiates with Santa.  E. Mesiyah McGinnis / L.A. Sentinel

Mitchell noted, “This allowed children as young as three-years-old to bless others through the precious cards they made.  Now, we are focusing on providing gift cards and age-appropriate gifts for our seniors and college students through our Angel Tree Christmas Project.”

But even while promoting the Angel Tree Christmas Project, MIA will place equal emphasis on helping people who are negatively impacted by COVID-19, said Mitchell.

Students were given toys for Christmas. E. Mesiyah McGinnis / L.A. Sentinel

“Since the pandemic started in 2020, MIA has distributed food and PPE supplies to thousands of families. Also, we’ve assisted over 15,000 people with receiving COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots. “We are very serious about helping our community,” she insisted.

Mothers In Action, founded in 1992 to improve the quality of life for South L.A. children and families, sponsors a range of services including mentoring programs, financial literacy training, job placement and referrals. For more than 20 years, MIA has presented the largest giveaway of school supplies and resources on the West Coast. The Annual Back-to-School Health Fair and Festival distributes free items to thousands of students in the greater Los Angeles area.

Bakewell Primary School principal, Karen Ward and MIA President Tracy Mitchell. (Courtesy MIA President Tracy Mitchell)

To learn more, email [email protected].  Donations are accepted at Zelle at (213) 706-5831,

www.gofundme.com/MIA-AngelTreeChristmasProject or by mailing checks to Mothers In Action, 3800 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008.